There could be a lot of things that could be said as to what went wrong for Italy in their opening match of EURO 2008. However, the decision making of Italy boss Roberto Donadoni has to be the leading reason why the Azzurri was not up to snub.
The decision to include Massimo Ambrosini in the starting XI was something that I questioned from the start.
Donadoni went with the all AC Milan midfield, one that is more defensive minded than anything else. With Rino Gattuso already doing the dirty work in the midfield, a more offensive minded midfielder, such as Daniele De Rossi or Alberto Aquilani would have been a much better choice than Ambrosini.
The first goal of the game will be debated for weeks—and for obvious reasons—but Donadoni's response after the Dutch scored their second goal has to be questioned.
To not make any changes at the half was definitely the wrong thing to do. Ambrosini was still there in the midfield doing a whole lot of nothing, and the boys in orange continued to attack at will.
Donadoni's first substitution, Fabio Grosso for Marco Materazzi, did prove to work well, but to keep the midfield the way it was for all of the second half was the wrong move.
But while Grosso had an impact immediately, the Dutch kept coming right at the Italian defense. The youthful legs of Rafael Van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder continually made defenders look old, which was one of the biggest concerns coming into the tournament for Italy.
The other two subs, Alessandro Del Piero and Antonio Cassano, were made too late to make any considerable impact. While Del Piero had a few chances to score, Cassano barely saw the ball come his way outside of setting up Luca Toni.
In order for the Azzurri to have success in the next two games and advance to the knockout round of EURO 2008, something will have to be changed to get the offense going.
Toni cannot be counted on to single-handedly carry the offense. Somebody has to get him the ball so he can work his magic in the box and give Italy hope of advancing.
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